All you need to know about a stroke

Senior woman with elastic bandA stroke occurs when there’s a reduction or blockage of blood supply to the brain. It can also result from the rupture of a blood vessel within the brain. This blockage or rupture prevents the supply of oxygen to the brain tissues. Consequently, the brain cells begin to die within minutes.

Sustained periods of stroke can be fatal. That’s why stroke is considered to be a medical emergency. If you’re with anyone experiencing a stroke, call 911 to seek prompt medical attention. In this article, we explore all you need to know about stroke.

What is Stroke?

As noted earlier, a stroke occurs when blockage or blood vessel rupture hinders the supply of blood and oxygen to the brain cells. According to CDC, stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States, killing about 795,000 people yearly.

Common Symptoms

Once the supply of blood to the brain is interrupted, brain tissue damage kicks in. Notable symptoms become visible in areas controlled by the damaged region of the brain. Some of the common symptoms of stroke include:

  • Paralysis
  • Difficulty speaking or understanding speech
  • Slurring speech
  • Numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one half of the body.
  • Trouble walking
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of balance and coordination.

Once stroke kicks in, the sooner the person gets medical attention, the better their chance of recovery. Every second count! Failure to act promptly can result in:

  • Brain damage
  • Long-term disability
  • Death.

Call 911 if you notice someone exhibiting symptoms of stroke!

Types of Stroke

Strokes can be classified into three main categories:

  • Transient ischemic attack (TIA)
  • Ischemic stroke
  • Hemorrhagic stroke.

Transient ischemic attack (TIA)

Sometimes, the blood supply to the brain is temporarily interrupted by a blood clot. This results in a mini-stroke, technically called transient ischemic attack. While TIA exhibits symptoms of a full stroke, these symptoms typically disappear within a few minutes to hours.

More often than not, a full stroke is usually preceded by TIA. Unfortunately, statistics by the CDC show that more than one-third of people who experience TIA and fail to receive medical attention end up having a full stroke within a year.

Ischemic stroke

Ischemic stroke is caused by the narrowing or blocking of arteries that take blood to the brain. While this blockage is primarily caused by a blood clot, it can also be caused by atherosclerosis breaking off and blocking the blood vessel.

There are two main types of ischemic stroke: embolic and thrombotic stroke. In a thrombotic stroke, a blood clot forms right in the arteries supplying the brain with blood. On the other hand, in an embolic stroke, the clot is produced elsewhere in the body and transported to the brain. According to the CDC, ischemic strokes make up about 87 percent of strokes.

Hemorrhagic Stroke

This occurs when an artery in the brain gets cut and leaks blood. As blood escapes from the artery, it increases the pressure within that localized region of the skull. This causes the brain to swell, which eventually damages brain cells and tissues.

Hemorrhagic strokes are broadly classified into two: intracerebral and subarachnoid. In intracerebral hemorrhagic stroke, blood directly fills the tissues surrounding the brain when the artery breaks open. In subarachnoid hemorrhagic stroke, blood simply fills the space between the brain and the tissues covering it. An intracerebral hemorrhagic stroke makes up the vast majority of hemorrhagic strokes.

Causes and Risk factors

Different types of strokes have different potential causes. However, certain risk factors significantly increase your risk of having one. Some of which include:

  • Unhealthy diets including foods high in salt, saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol.
  • An extended period of inactivity
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Personal background like family history, sex, age, and ethnicity.
  • Prior medical conditions linked to stroke, like high blood pressure, a previous stroke or TIA, high cholesterol, sickle cell disease, diabetes, and heart disorders.

Diagnosis

Because a stroke can cause rapid deterioration, immediate medical attention – preferably within three hours of observing symptoms – is needed to obtain the best outcome. Some of the major methods of diagnosing stroke include:

  • Physical examination

Physical examination is carried out to observe muscle strength, reflexes, vision, sensation, and coordination. Similarly, the doctor may check your blood pressure, examine the blood vessels at the back of your eyes or listen to the carotid arteries.

  • Tests

Several tests can be carried out to determine if you’ve had a stroke. Some of which include:

Blood tests, CT scans, MRI scans, cerebral angiogram, carotid ultrasonic and echocardiogram

Treatment

Stroke treatment is highly dependent on the type of stroke you experience. Here are some common treatments based on the types of strokes:

Ischemic stroke and TIA

  • Antiplatelet and anticoagulants
  • Clot-breaking drugs
  • Mechanical thrombectomy
  • Stents
  • Surgery

Hemorrhagic stroke

  • Medications to make your blood clot
  • Coiling to restrict excessive blood flow
  • Clamping to prevent additional bleeding
  • Surgery

Wrap Up

A stroke is a serious medication that requires immediate medical attention. Incorporating certain lifestyle changes can significantly reduce your chances of having a stroke. Some things to bear in mind include:

  • Quit alcohol and smoking
  • Watch your weight
  • Eat healthy diets, including plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and legumes
  • Exercise regularly
  • Undergo regular medical checkups for sugar and blood pressure levels.

Contact us today for more information.

Junk food is going to kill you

29198622_MSure, the title of this post may be a bit harsh, but guess what else is harsh? Junk food is harsh on your body. It may be easy to give into that Big “Fat” Mac or Seven Layers “Of Poor Health” Burrito, but when you’re done eating them, that’s exactly what you’ll have: excess fat and poor health.

Don’t get us wrong, we aren’t trying to be excessively negative or depressing. We’re just trying to save your health and, ultimately, your life. Junk food sure is quick and easy; a quick and easy way to potential health issues. And don’t be fooled; even junk foods that are low in calories are bad for you. Why? Because they are excessively processed, filled with artificial ingredients, and lacking in the essential nutrients your body needs.

Do you feel fatigued, stressed, or suffer from a lack of focus? Perhaps you have been to the doctor a dozen times for fibromyalgia or diabetes. If so, are you feeling trapped by the daily pills and wondering if it’s the only way? Have you considered what you are eating as being a potential contributor?

Highly processed junk foods contain unhealthy ingredients such as nitrates, bad fats, sugar or artificial sweeteners, salt, or other unwanted chemicals as a result of the way they are processed. Just consider for a moment the number of machines processed foods go through on their way to your mouth. By the time they hit the grocery shelf or fast food counter, they have been so burnt, frozen, dehydrated, and stuffed with preservatives, they have pretty much no chance of providing you with any kind of nutrition.

Many people suffer from chronic disorders that their physicians have trouble either diagnosing or treating. Yet, far too few family doctors ask their patients, “What are you eating?”

There is a reason why the popular saying, “you are what you eat” exists. The last thing you need is to feed your body junk!

Nutritional supplements – Help or hype for healthy living?

Medical capsule with fruit. Vitamins and supplements. DifferentAccording to the CRN 2017 Survey on Dietary Supplements, about 75 percent of Americans take dietary supplements. What’s more, the dietary supplement industry is growing at a rapid rate, projected to reach $278 billion by 2024.

Should this be a cause for concern? In an ideal world, we’re supposed to obtain the nutrition we need from diet alone! But the reality is we live in an imperfect world. With our fast-paced lives, take-outs and fast food are the new norms. Hence, we are forced to take supplements to complement the nutrients lacking in our daily diet.

This article explores the role dietary supplements play in nutrition and whether they’re good or bad.

Examples of Dietary Supplements

Dietary supplements consist of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, herbs, and amino acids. They come in different forms, including tablets, capsules, gel caps, soft gels, powders, and liquids. Common supplements include:

  • Multivitamins
  • Vitamins
  • Fish oil
  • Calcium
  • Ginseng
  • Echinacea
  • Probiotics

Are Supplements Necessary?

Unless you have a self-grown garden and/or you cook what you eat, chances are you cannot reach the level of health needed to function effectively from diet alone. Here are some of the reasons for that.

  • Poor soil quality

The quality of the soil determines the quality of the food we get. Plants grown in soil depleted of nutrients and trace minerals offer reduced nutritional benefits. This directly impacts our health when we consume such plants or animals that consume such plants.

  • Pollution

Thanks to industrialization, the world is polluted than ever. Both at home and in our offices, we are exposed to several harmful pollutants. While healthy diets offer some protection, special supplements are needed to support our endogenous detoxification systems.

  • Health History

We all have unique body systems. Sometimes our body is lacking some vital nutrients, maybe due to health conditions like a damaged digestive system, cesarean section birth, substance use, and more. In such instances, supplements can help provide the vital nutrients that are lacking.

Are Dietary Supplements Regulated by the FDA?

Contrary to what you might think, dietary supplements are regulated by the FDA as food, not as drugs. What this means is those supplement manufacturers are only obliged to produce supplements in a quality manner, ensuring it doesn’t contain contaminants or impurities. FDA does not review or test for medicinal efficacy.

Consequently, supplements with health claims are required to put a disclaimer on their label that such supplements have not been evaluated by the FDA.

Does this Mean Dietary Supplements are Dangerous?

Provided you’re not taking mega doses of supplements, most supplements are safe to use. However, some can be dangerous or even deadly. A 2015 study by the New England Journal of Medicine found that 23,000 people ended up in an emergency room after using supplements. Here are some common reasons for that:

  • Overdosing
  • Fraudulent dietary supplements
  • Due to lax regulations, some supplements with illegal substances go undetected.
  • Unintended complications: Some supplements interact with certain prior medical conditions or medication. For instance, beta-carotene (a supplement used to reduce the risk of heart disease) can increase the risk of lung cancer in smokers. Similarly, evening primrose can interact with warfarin to increase the risk of bleeding.

Taking Precautions

Dietary supplements offer tremendous benefits as they help ensure we get all the crucial nutrients we need to live healthily. However, here are some things to bear in mind concerning the use of supplements.

  • Food first!

Nutritionists recommend food first because food contains a variety of vitamins and minerals, even those absent in supplements. For instance, dietary supplements usually do not contain bioactive compounds and dietary fiber, which are crucial.

Furthermore, for supplements to work effectively, it is important that you do not consume them with an empty stomach. Food helps with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins in supplements.

But more than just eating, you have to ensure that your diet is balanced. A balanced diet provides you with all the nutrients you need, thereby boosting your immune system.

  • Don’t go overboard

When taking supplements, ensure you don’t use more than the upper limit. Overdosing can lead to health complications. Simply follow the dosing instructions!

  • Avoid these ingredients

According to Per Consumer Reports, certain supplements contain some ingredients that may pose health risks. Some of such ingredients include bitter orange, comfrey, chaparral, country mallow, kava, methyl synephrine, usnic acid, and red yeast rice. Stay clear from them!

  • Consult with your doctor first

Before taking supplements, speak with a certified nutritional practitioner. They are trained to prescribe based on your case history and lab test results. This ensures that the prescribed supplements are well-suited for your individual body needs, with no risk of complications.

  • Buy supplements from reputable stores.

Some experts kick against purchasing supplements from online stores like eBay because you cannot be assured of their legitimacy or safety. Similarly, be leery of cheap supplements, as they may reflect inferior production. Furthermore, ensure you only purchase supplements from countries that have safety standards in place.

  • Keep track of side effects.

Ensure you take note of any side effects – such as nausea, dizziness, chest pain, etc. – you notice while using a supplement. Stop using the medication and promptly inform your doctor to determine the best course of action.

Contact us today for more information.

Inflammation is the common denominator

??????????????????????????????????tWhen you look at all the major health ailments out there, they tend to have one common denominator: inflammation. Whether you suffer from heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, cancer or even depression, in many cases the root cause can be found alongside inflammation or one sort or another.

Inflammatory diseases by themselves run the gamut, affecting many, many millions of people all over the world. Even more troubling, rates of these diseases and conditions appears to only be rising.

Traditional medicine teaches us that the best way to deal with inflammation is to essentially mask it through medication. In some cases, even immune suppressing drugs are used.

Yet, the missing piece lies at the root of the problem, which is that physicians are not normally trained to find the underlying cause of the inflammation. In a treatment-focused medical atmosphere, prevention and cure come few and far between.

Fortunately, more and more providers and patients are learning about an approach designed to address whatever is causing the inflammation and eliminate it, rather than merely mask the symptoms. Functional medicine, which takes a systemic approach to your health, focuses on uncovering health issues that may be related, yet still unknown.

Autoimmune problems are related by a specific biochemical process. When your body’s immune response is to attack its own tissues, you wind up with major inflammation that can hamper other systems throughout the body. Whether you suffer from allergies or arthritis, medicating the symptom is not the answer.

Get fully functional and find the root cause of the problem. Your body will thank you. Not sure where to start? http://proactivewellness.com, we can help.

Natural ways to balance your hormones

62536051 - book with words hormone imbalance symptoms on a table.Hormones are the chemical messengers of your body. They travel through your bloodstream, instructing different organs and tissues on what to do. From reproduction to metabolism regulation, your hormones control all of your body’s major processes.

Just as a tiny hormonal imbalance can have negative effects, including diabetics, weight gain, infertility, depression, and many more. A good parallel is to consider what happens when you add too much salt to your food. You ruin it! Your hormones are like ingredients that need to be properly balanced.

Hormonal injections and supplements are two common ways people combat hormonal imbalances. However, in this post, we take your attention to six ways you can balance your hormones naturally.

Get enough sleep

Sleep is arguably the most important factor affecting hormonal balance. Nothing can save you from hormonal imbalance when you don’t get enough restorative sleep – not even nutrition or exercise! Poor sleep has been linked to imbalances in hormones like cortisol, insulin, ghrelin, and leptin. A study found that sleeping for four hours per night reduced insulin sensitivity in men by 20%.

Based on a study by the International Journal of Endocrinology, getting improper sleep can result in diabetes, obesity, and problems with appetite.

Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep daily, but it’s important to note that quality also matters. Going through the five stages of each sleep cycle is important for the release of growth hormones.

Exercise regularly

The right kind and amount of exercise will positively impact your body’s hormones. A major benefit of exercise is its ability to increase insulin sensitivity and decrease insulin levels.

Insulin is an anabolic hormone that allows our body cells to take sugar from the bloodstream and use it as energy. Low levels of insulin results in constant fatigue, anxiety, irritability, and pale skin. On the other hand, high insulin levels have been linked to diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

Many types of physical activities, however, have been found to modify hormone levels. Performing aerobics, strength training, walking, and other exercises will help lower your risk of many diseases.

Manage Stress

We live in an insanely fast-paced world, where no one ever seems to take a break. This high level of stress affects two main hormones – cortisol and adrenaline.

Cortisol is the stress hormone that helps us cope with long-term stress. Adrenaline is responsible for our fight-flight mechanism, which helps us to react instinctively to danger. While these hormones fluctuate depending on the current condition, they are supposed to get regulated.

However, in high-stress environments, cortisol levels remain high. This saps an immense amount of energy, which causes you to eat more, putting you at the risk of obesity. If your adrenaline levels remain elevated, it can result in high blood pressure and anxiety. That’s why you need to effectively manage your stress level.

Avoid Sugar and refined carbs

Sugar and refined carbs have been found to play a role in issues such as insulin resistance and metabolic disease. Fructose, in particular, increases insulin levels, especially in overweight people with prediabetes or diabetes. Common sources of fructose include honey, maple syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, and refined table sugar. Diet high in refined carbs like pretzels and white bread may promote insulin resistance.

That’s why it’s advisable to eliminate sugar from your diet. In particular, stay away from sugary beverages. Eating a low- or moderate- carb diet instead of refined carb may help overweight people reduce their insulin levels.

Consume Healthy Fats

While fat is important for the proper functioning of the body, unhealthy fats like trans fats have been found to cause insulin resistance and increase belly fat storage. That’s why it’s good to take only high-quality natural fats.

Coconut oil, pure MCT oil, and palm oil contain medium-chain triglycerides, which help to provide the liver with energy. MCTs are also known to reduce insulin resistance.

Dairy fats and monounsaturated fat in olive oil and nuts can help increase your insulin sensitivity. It also helps balance the hormone responsible for appetite regulation and the digestion of protein and fat.

Eat Enough Protein

Consuming enough protein is very important because it provides the body with amino acid, which the body can’t make on its own. Amino acid assists in the creation and growth of muscles, connective tissue, and skin. They aid in healing and repair, as well as digestion.

To maintain your hormonal balance, eating protein is non-negotiable. Consuming protein decreases ghrelin (which is our hunger hormone) while stimulating the production of other hormones that make you feel full.

Common sources of protein include lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, among many others. Asides from being a good source of protein, fatty fish also contains long-chain omega-3 fatty acids that help decrease insulin levels while increasing insulin sensitivity.

Wrap Up

Other natural tips worth mentioning include:

  • Eating a high-fiber diet.
  • Drinking green tea
  • Avoiding alcohol
  • Stop smoking

Your hormones influence both your physical and emotional well-being. Adopting these practices into your lifestyle will help you enjoy better overall health.

Contact us today for more information!

All about the C-reactive protein

104979209_mYou hear about inflammation all the time these days. From scientific articles to social media posts, inflammation in the body is a hot topic. And, with chronic inflammation diseases on the rise, researchers have been throwing everything they’ve got into determining the root cause of some of these conditions, which is where the C-reactive protein comes in.

Also known as CRP, the C-reactive protein is an inflammatory protein that is discovered via blood tests. When it is found, this information provides one of the best ways to measure inflammation levels. CRP is a naturally occurring protein, meaning your body uses it all the time to help control inflammation levels and fight bodily invaders.

But like almost anything else, too much of a good thing can wind up being bad. CRP levels that are significantly higher than normal levels could be a sign of something deeper going on. Since CRP is a non-specific protein, the levels of it within your body merely tell you that your inflammation is too high, rather than what the actual problem is.

Still, it has been shown that CRP is abnormally high in the presence of the following conditions:

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Lupus
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disorder
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Metabolic Syndromes
  • Sleep Apnea

While lowering your CRP should be something you discuss with your physician or functional medicine provider, there are immediate steps you can take to ensure inflammation within your body is under control, including cutting back on your sugar intake and increasing your levels of B vitamin intake.

As modern medicine continues to discover the myriad of reasons why inflammation disorders occur, findings like that of CRP go a long way to helping doctors and patients uncover the truth about all-too-common runaway inflammation.

Mold illness: All you need to know

Man with magnifying glass checking mold fungusOver the past few years, the awareness of toxic mold’s effect on human health has increased dramatically. In this article, we will explore the differences between molds, mold spores, and mycotoxins. We’re also going to explore the symptoms of mold illness and how it can be prevented.

What are Molds?

Molds are microscopic fungi that live on plant and animal matter. Outdoors, molds play a crucial role in breaking down dead leaves, plants, and trees. Molds thrive in the presence of moisture and air. Consequently, they can also be found indoors where this condition is met – such as on paper products, ceiling tiles, bathroom walls, drywall, and carpet. There are over 100,000 different types of molds, and they reproduce by making mold spores.

What are Mold Spores?

Mold spores are tiny, lightweight spores produced by spores that travel in the air. You can think of them as mold seeds. By floating in the air, they can survive in harsh and dry environments (where mold may not survive). However, when these spores land on damp surfaces in your home, they can start to grow. That’s why moisture control is significant in preventing mold growth because getting rid of mold spores is difficult.

What are Mycotoxins?

Mycotoxins are toxic compounds that are naturally produced by certain types of molds. When released into the air, these toxic compounds can find their way into the body through various ways, including inhalation, through the skin, or ingestion of mold-contaminated food.

In the body, the adverse health effects of mycotoxins stem from the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Cytokines are small proteins that aid in coordinating immune responses. But with the presence of mycotoxin, the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines results in an abnormal immune response.

What is Mold Illness?

Mold illness is an inflammation within the body caused by an immune system that has gone haywire. Mold illness is a subcategory of biotoxin illness called Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS).

Most people develop mold illness upon prolonged exposure to water-damaged buildings. Water damages can be caused by water leaks, construction defects, inadequate caulking, among many others. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) estimates that one-in-four US buildings are water damaged. These damp surfaces promote the growth of bacteria, fungi, and mold.

Mold in the Human Body

While almost everyone becomes ill when exposed to high biotoxins levels, most people recover on their own once the exposure is discontinued. This happens through the detoxification system that identifies the biotoxins as harmful and eliminates them.

However, human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genes present in some people prevent their body system from recognizing the biotoxins. Consequently, the biotoxins trigger a chronic inflammatory response, which then devolves into CIRS. According to research, about 25% of the population has the HLA-DR gene.

Common Symptoms of Mold Illness

Contrary to what many people believe, mold illness is not an allergy. It’s an illness that can result in serious respiratory issues, nasal drainage, and even skin issues if left untreated. Several symptoms are associated with CIRS – both on a physical and emotional level. Here are some of them:

  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Vertigo
  • Metallic taste
  • Tremors
  • Headache
  • Light sensitivity
  • Blurred vision
  • Sinus problems
  • Cough
  • Abdominal pain
  • Joint pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Appetite swings
  • Memory issues
  • Concentration issues
  • Disorientation
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Static shocks and many more.

Why CIRS is Frequently Missed or Misdiagnosed

When you combine the fact that about 25 percent of the population is susceptible to mold illness with the prevalence of water-damaged buildings, it’s no surprise that there’s been an increase in inflammatory diseases in the past few decades arising from CIRS.

Unfortunately, most patients with mold illness are not properly diagnosed because conventional doctors do not routinely look for it. Furthermore, mold illness shares similar symptoms with many other conditions – like myalgic encephalomyelitis, fibromyalgia, post-treatment Lyme syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, attention deficit disorder, multiple sclerosis – often leading to a mistaken diagnosis.

Testing for Mold Exposure

Diagnosing mold illness can be difficult for reasons discussed earlier. However, there are certain things doctors look for to diagnose if a patient has CIRS. They include:

  • History, signs, and symptoms that are consistent with biotoxin exposure.
  • A genetic predisposition to CIRS based on the identification of an HLA-susceptible haplotype.
  • Abnormalities documented by visual contrast sensitivity (VCS) testing. This is effective because biotoxins affect the optic nerves, decreasing the ability to detect visual contrast.
  • Biomarkers that indicate abnormalities consistent with CIRS.

Preventing Mold Illness

The best way to prevent mold illness is to minimize biotoxins in your home. This can be achieved by reducing moisture and improving air quality. Here are some tips to bear in mind:

  • Fix all leaky pipes as soon as possible.
  • Use detergent and water to scrub mold off hard surfaces.
  • Clean and repair your roof gutters regularly.
  • Clean your air conditioning pans.
  • Don’t use carpets in areas with high moisture, like in your bathroom.
  • Maintain an indoor humidity of 30 to 50 percent.
  • Use a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter to remove airborne toxins.

Contact us here today for more information.

Functional medicine blends traditional and modern practices

Female patient listening to doctorHave you ever thought about the difference between functional and standard traditional medicine? There is, in fact, quite a big difference and it’s one you need to know about if you’re going to find the right treatment for what ails you. Here’s how they contrast with each other: One focuses on prevention, the other on the actual treatment of that problem. What sets functional medicine apart is its laser-like focus on addressing the root cause of diseases.

Even better, functional medicine doesn’t eschew traditional medicine, in fact, it combines the two. The knowledge gleaned through traditional medical school training is filtered through a different approach to treating disease.

For example, Jack is suffering from eczema, of which the standard treatment is a moisturizing skin cream and steroid cream. While this will calm the rash for a time, it doesn’t address whatever is causing the rash in the first place.

Something is going on within Jack’s body that is causing inflammation on the surface of his skin. Rather than simply treat it, forcing Jack to buy yet ever more creams, the functional medicine approach is to both treat it and cure it.

Doctors who practice functional medicine are like private investigators. Our job is to look at the body as a whole system as we try and pinpoint the factors causing an ailment.

Jack’s eczema is what we would call a “downstream” symptom. The functional approach looks “upstream” in an attempt to uncover where the symptoms originate and what may be causing them.

A functional approach to treatment represents a holistic approach, combining the best of traditional medicine with the best investigative, functional treatments available. Whether it’s nutrition, environment or something internal, we take a big picture view.

Now the question is, why would you ever put all your eggs in one basket? Attack your ailment from all angles with a functional approach.

All you need to know about Alzheimer’s Disease (and Dementia)

83991716_MAs we age, it’s normal for minor forgetfulness to set in. However, this memory loss can become so severe that it disrupts daily life – from losing track of days and time to having difficulty engaging in everyday activities like paying bills.

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive form of dementia that slowly causes impairment in memory and cognitive function. As of 2020, an estimated 5.8 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s, of which most patients are over the age of 65. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the US.

In this post, we’re going to explore all you need to know about Alzheimer’s and how it relates to dementia.

Dementia vs. Alzheimer’s

Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are often used interchangeably by laymen. However, they are two different things. Dementia is used to describe a broad range of symptoms that impacts memory, communication abilities, and the performance of routine activities. Several conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and more can result in Dementia.

Alzheimer’s disease is simply a type of dementia. It is even the most common form of dementia, accounting for over 60% of dementia cases.

Risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease

Medical experts are yet to determine a single definitive cause of Alzheimer’s disease. However, several risk factors can increase a person’s chances of developing the condition.

  • Age: As we age, we become more susceptible to brain deterioration. Little wonder, the majority of Alzheimer’s disease develops in people over the age of 65 years.
  • Family history: Some families have a history of Alzheimer’s disease. Belonging to such a family can increase your risk of developing it.
  • Genes: Some genes – like the dreaded APOE E4/E5 genetic profile – have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

Common Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease

Being forgetful occurs from time to time in almost everyone. However, when such forgetfulness intensifies and symptoms persist, it can be indicative of Alzheimer’s disease. Here are some of the symptoms of the condition:

  • Memory loss that makes it difficult to keep up with daily life, like keeping appointments.
  • Having trouble performing familiar tasks, like using an oven.
  • Impairment in speech or writing
  • Losing track of time, date, and season.
  • Withdrawal from loved ones.
  • Decreased sense of judgment and personal hygiene.
  • Personality changes.

Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease

The most common system – as developed by Dr. Barry Reisberg of New York University – breaks the progression of Alzheimer’s disease into seven stages.

  • Stage 1: No impairment

During this stage, there are no detectable memory problems or other symptoms of dementia.

  • Stage 2: Very mild decline

Minor memory problems sets in, however, they are indistinguishable from normal memory-loss challenges associated with aging.

  • Stage 3: Mild decline

Reduced memory and concentration sets in at this stage. You may have difficulty finding the right words in conversations, for instance. People close to you may begin to notice this memory decline.

  • Stage 4: Moderate decline

Symptoms become apparent. Common problems include difficulty with simple arithmetic or inability to manage finances and pay bills.

  • Stage 5: Moderately severe decline

People at this stage may need help with daily activities. Common problems that may arise include difficulty dressing appropriately, significant confusion, or forgetting their phone number.

  • Stage 6: Severe decline

At this stage, people need constant supervision and professional care as confusion and unawareness of the environment becomes very significant. Loss of bladder and bowel control may arise.

  • Stage 7: Very severe decline

This is the final stage of Alzheimer’s disease. At this stage, people lose the ability to communicate or respond to their environment. People at this stage are typically nearing death.

Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

At the moment, there is no definitive test for Alzheimer’s disease, except autopsy. However, doctors make use of several tests – which can include mental, physical, or neurological tests, as well as brain-imaging – to determine your diagnosis.

Alzheimer’s Medication

There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. However, certain treatments can help reduce the progression of the disease or ease symptoms.

Medications like rivastigmine (Exelon) and donepezil (Aricept) may help people with early to moderate Alzheimer’s. Memantine (Namenda), on the other hand, can be prescribed to people with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s.

Furthermore, Dr. Bredesen’s ReCODE Protocol is reported to stop or reverse cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Preventing Alzheimer’s

While there are no fool-proof preventive measures for Alzheimer’s, adopting certain lifestyles can help reduce your risk of developing the condition. Some of these measures include:

  • Quit smoking
  • Engage in regular cognitive training exercises
  • Exercise daily
  • Consume more antioxidants
  • Adopt a plant-based diet
  • Maintain a vibrant social life.

Contact us here today for more information. We understand this is a scary and touchy topic that can have unwarranted repercussions in and around family members. We are here to help in any way we can – do not hesitate to reach out.

4 strategies to effectively cope with stress

Stress: a completely normal bodily reaction that affects everyone at some point. Stress isn’t something to shy away from in small doses. In fact, stress can help keep us motivated and to perform well under pressure. Tired businessman massaging nose bridge, feeling eyes strain

Stress is also in reaction to a dangerous situation, allowing us to “flight or fight,” and effectively solve the challenge we are being faced with.

However, ongoing stress that feels more unmanageable can be debilitating. Luckily, there are many strategies for coping with stress in an effective way. Here are just some of them.

1. Exercise on a regular basis.
Besides the physical benefits that come with exercise, it has also proven to work in battling emotional and mental stress. Whether you participate in yoga, running or dance, those endorphins will surge through your body every time. Plus, exercise helps to release any excess stress hormone.

2. Incorporate relaxation techniques.
This could be meditation, repeating a mantra, or even talking to a friend. Whatever relaxation means to you, go ahead and do it. Remember that true relaxation may not come so easy at first, but just keep at it and it’ll become a learned technique in no time.

3. Be okay with not saying “yes” to everything.
This is an important one. For a number of individuals, stress is brought upon because of an overwhelming to-do list. We seem to get busier every year, despite new technologies that are supposed to make our work more efficient. Step back and be okay with saying “no” to additional requests that are unimportant. When possible, try not to overcommit.

4. Change your diet.
A diet that is well-balanced and rich in healthy fats, vegetables and fruits has shown to make a difference. Also, avoid caffeine, as caffeine is a stimulant that actually increases your level of stress.

Remember that stress is completely normal. There is no use being stressed about the fact that you are stressed. Step back and take a moment to get that stress hormone down so you can breathe easy.